BONN, JAN. 19 -- Nationwide anti-war protests and fear of terrorist attacks have prompted an increase in German security and a virtual shutdown of public facilities serving the U.S. military and diplomatic communities here.
The U.S. military has closed schools -- some since Thursday, the day the Persian Gulf War began -- as well as some churches, day-care centers and sports facilities that serve soldiers and families who remain in Germany. About one-third of the 260,000 U.S. troops in Germany have been deployed to the gulf area.
The U.S. Army has warned soldiers in Europe to dress like local residents and leave their cowboy boots, baseball caps and loud music on the base.
"Don't attract attention. Try to dress and act like local residents," said announcements for service members broadcast on military television. "Don't play loud music or wear typically American clothing."
The military has even warned Americans here not to wear yellow ribbons in solidarity with U.S. forces for fear that such displays could attract the attention of terrorists.
In Bonn, the American diplomatic compound closed off streets leading to the rest of the city and shut down its library, day-care center and several other facilities. In Munich, the military has imposed a night curfew for all personnel.
Fearful of bombs, the military has temporarily stopped sending mail from Germany to U.S. soldiers in Saudi Arabia by air. New screening machines are being brought to mail facilities, but mail for soldiers taking part in the Persian Gulf War will likely be sent by ship rather than air, according to a report on Armed Forces Radio.
At German airports, security personnel have begun confiscating all electronic appliances, including radios, razors, computers and curling irons. Although the German Transport Ministry announced Friday that "any machine that could contain a bomb" was subject to additional security checks, the government statement did not acknowledge the confiscations.
When security officials refused to allow appliances on board either as hand or checked luggage, shouting matches erupted at airports around the country. At Berlin's Tegel Airport, all electrical appliances were taken and "put in a pressurized chamber for 48 hours," a Berlin police supervisor said.
Passengers were advised that they would have to return to the city from which they were flying to reclaim their belongings.
A government spokesman said airport security officers were not given any list of items to be banned from flights, but were given authority to "consider each case individually."
The sharp increase in security at military bases resulted in part from plans of numerous German anti-war groups to begin daily, and in some cases around-the-clock, demonstrations outside the U.S. Rhein-Main Air Base and other military facilities.
The No War in the Gulf coalition said today it will try to block the front gate of Rhein-Main, the main transfer point for U.S. troops and equipment heading to the war zone.
Continuing large protests that began at the start of the war, nearly 100,000 Germans demonstrated around the country today, directing most of their protest against the United States.
Although most of the German protests have been peaceful, two Molotov cocktails and several paint bombs were tossed onto the property of an armaments company in the central German city of Kassel. The fire stemming from the attack was put out without major damage.
Over the past two days, workers at Opel and Volkswagen auto plants, and at many smaller companies around the country, stopped work for a few minutes at a time as a symbolic strike against the war.